was a common year starting on Wednesday
(link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar
(or a common year starting on Monday
of the 12-day slower Julian calendar
Events of 1862
January - March
- January 1 - Britain annexes Lagos Island in modern-day Nigeria.
- January 6 - French, Spanish, and British forces arrive in Veracruz, Mexico, beginning the French intervention in Mexico.
- January 10 - John Gately Downey, 7th Governor of California, is succeeded by Amasa Leland Stanford.
- January 30 - The first American ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, is launched.
- January 31 - Alvan Graham Clark makes the first observation of Sirius B, a white dwarf star, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.
- February 1 - Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic is published for the first time in the Atlantic Monthly.
- February 6 - American Civil War - Battle of Fort Henry: Ulysses S. Grant gives the United States its first victory of the war, by capturing Fort Henry, Tennessee.
- February 15 - American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant attacks Fort Donelson, Tennessee and captures it the next day.
- February 22 - American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is officially inaugurated in Richmond, Virginia, to a 6-year term as president of the Confederate States of America.
- March 7 - American Civil War - The Battle of Pea Ridge: The Confederates are shut out of Missouri.
- March 8 - American Civil War: The iron-clad CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) is launched at Hampton Roads, Virginia; the Battle of Hampton Roads starts the same day.
- March 9 - American Civil War: First battle between two ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, begins.
- March 13 American Civil War: The U.S. federal government forbids all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, thus effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.
- March 28 - American Civil War - Battle of Glorieta Pass: In New Mexico, Union forces succeed in stopping the Confederate invasion of New Mexico territory (the battle began on March 26).
April - June
- April 5 - American Civil War - Battle of Yorktown: The battle begins when Union forces under General George B. McClellan close in on the Confederate capital Richmond, Virginia.
- April 6 - American Civil War: In Tennessee, the Battle of Shiloh begins.
- April 7 - American Civil War - Battle of Shiloh: Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant defeats the Confederates near Shiloh, Tennessee.
- April 12 - American Civil War - Andrew's Raid Union volunteers steal a Confederate locomotive, setting off The Great Locomotive Chase.
- April 25 - American Civil War: Forces under Union Admiral David Farragut capture the Confederate city of New Orleans, Louisiana.
- April 26 - American Civil War: The besieged Confederate garrison at Fort Macon, North Carolina surrenders.
- May 2 - The California State Normal School (now San Jose State University) is created by an Act of the California Legislature.
- May 5 - Battle of Puebla: Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza defeats the French Army; commemorated each year as "Cinco de Mayo" (Spanish "Five of May").
- May 11 - American Civil War: The ironclad CSS Virginia is scuttled in the James River northwest of Norfolk, Virginia.
- May 15 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill into law creating the United States Bureau of Agriculture (later renamed USDA).
- May 20 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law.
- June 1 - American Civil War - Battle of Fair Oaks: Both sides claim victory.
- June 4 - American Civil War: Confederate troops evacuate Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River, leaving the way clear for Union troops to take Memphis, Tennessee.
- June 6 - American Civil War - Battle of Memphis: Union forces capture Memphis, Tennessee from the Confederates
- June 8 - American Civil War - Battle of Cross Keys: Confederate forces under General Stonewall Jackson save the Army of Northern Virginia from a Union assault on the James Peninsula led by General George B. McClellan.
- June 26- American Civil War - Battle of Mechanicsville: Confederate General Robert E. Lee defeats Union General George McClellan in the first of the Seven Days' Battles.
July - September
- July 1
- July 2 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Morrill Land Grant Act into law, creating land-grant colleges to teach agricultural and mechanical sciences across the United States.
- July 4 - Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) extemporises the story that becomes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters, on a rowing boat trip on The Isis, from Oxford to Godstow.
- July 16 - American Civil War: David G. Farragut becomes the first United States Navy rear admiral.
- July 19 - American Civil War - Morgan's Raid: At Buffington Island in Ohio, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's raid into the North is mostly thwarted when a large group of his men are captured while trying to escape across the Ohio River.
- July 23 - American Civil War: Henry W. Halleck takes command of the Union Army.
- August 2 - American Civil War - Skirmish at Taberville, MO: Union forces force Confederate troops to march south, near Taberville, Missouri.
- August 5 - American Civil War - Battle of Baton Rouge: Along the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Confederate troops drive Union forces back into the city.
- August 6 - American Civil War: The Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas is scuttled on the Mississippi River after suffering damage in a battle with the USS Essex near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
- August 9 - American Civil War - Battle of Cedar Mountain: At Cedar Mountain, Virginia, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson narrowly defeats Union forces under General John Pope.
- August 14 - Abraham Lincoln meets with a group of prominent African-Americans - the first time a President has done so. He suggests Black people should migrate to Africa or Central America, but this advice is rejected.
- August 17 - Indian Wars: A Lakota (Sioux) uprising begins in Minnesota as Lakota Sioux attack white settlements along the Minnesota River. They are overwhelmed by the U.S. military 6 weeks later.
- August 19 - Indian Wars: During an uprising in Minnesota, Lakota warriors decide not to attack heavily-defended Fort Ridgely and instead turn to the settlement of New Ulm, killing white settlers along the way.
- August 21 - The Vienna Stadtpark opens its gates.
- August 28-August 30 - American Civil War - Second Battle of Bull Run: Confederate forces inflict a crushing defeat on Union General John Pope.
- September 1 - American Civil War - Battle of Chantilly: Confederate General Robert E. Lee leads his forces in an attack on retreating Union troops in Chantilly, Virginia, driving them away.
- September 2 - American Civil War: President Abraham Lincoln reluctantly restores Union General George B. McClellan to full command after General John Pope's disastrous defeat at the Battle of Second Bull Run.
- September 5 - American Civil War: In the Confederacy's first invasion of the North, General Robert E. Lee leads 55,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River at White's Ford near Leesburg, Virginia, into Maryland.
- September 17 - American Civil War -
- September 19 - American Civil War - Battle of Iuka: Union troops under Major General William Rosecrans defeat a Confederate force commanded by Major General Sterling Price at Iuka, Mississippi.
- September 22
- September 29 - Bismarck delivers his Blood and Iron speech to the Prussian Assembly.
October - December
- October 8 - American Civil War - Battle of Perryville: Union forces under General Don Carlos Buell halt the Confederate invasion of Kentucky by defeating troops led by General Braxton Bragg at Perryville, Kentucky.
- October 11 - American Civil War: In the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart and his men loot Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, during a raid into the North.
- October 25 - In the Granadine Confederation, rebel troops of southern states defeat the government troops.
- November 5
- November 14 - American Civil War: Union President Abraham Lincoln approves General Ambrose Burnside's plan to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia (this leads to a dramatic Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13).
- November 28 - American Civil War - Battle of Cane Hill: Union troops led by General John Blunt push back Confederate forces commanded by General John Marmaduke into northwestern Arkansas' Boston Mountains.
- December 1 - In his State of the Union Address, President Abraham Lincoln reaffirms the necessity of ending slavery as ordered 10 weeks earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.
- December 2 - The first U.S. Navy hospital ships enter service.
- December 13 - Battle of Fredericksburg: The Union Army suffers massive casualties and abandons attempts to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
- December 18 - General Order No. 11, expelling all Jews in his military district, is issued by General Ulysses S. Grant (it is rescinded a few weeks later).
- December 26 - William D. Duly hangs 38 Dakota Sioux in Minnesota.
- December 26-29 - American Civil War - Battle of Chickasaw Bayou: Another victory for the Confederate Army, outnumbered 2 to 1, results in 6 times as many Union casualties, defeating several assaults coordinated by Union commander William T. Sherman.
- December 30 - The USS Monitor sinks off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
- December 31 - American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union (thus dividing Virginia in two); meanwhile, the Battle of Stones River is fought near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- December - Peruvian slave-raiders land on Easter Island, beginning a decade of near-genocide on the island.
- January 15 - Loie Fuller, American dancer (d. 1928)
- January 23 - David Hilbert, German mathematician (d. 1943)
- January 24 - Edith Wharton, American writer (d. 1937)
- January 29 - Frederick Delius, English composer (d. 1934)
- February 4 - George Ernest Morrison, Australian adventurer and journalist (d. 1920)
- February 7 - Bernard Ralph Maybeck, American architect (d. 1957)
- March 4 - Jacob Robert Emden, Swiss astrophysicist and meteorologist (d. 1940)
- March 8 - George Frederick Phillips, Canadian-born military hero (d. 1904)
- March 13 - Jane Delano, American founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service (d. 1919)
- March 17 - Silvio Gesell, economist (d. 1930)
- March 25 - William E. Johnson, American leader of the Anti-Saloon League (d. 1950)
- March 28 - Aristide Briand, French politician, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1932)
- March 29 - Adolfo Müller-Ury, artist (d. 1947)
- April 2 - Nicholas M. Butler, American president of Columbia University, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1947)
- April 6 - Georges Darien, French writer (d. 1921)
- April 11 - Charles Evans Hughes, American jurist and statesman (d. 1948)
- April 26 - Edmund Charles Tarbell, American artist (d. 1938)
- May 15 - Arthur Schnitzler, Austrian dramatist and narrator (d. 1931)
- May 27 - John Kendrick Bangs, American author and satirist (d. 1922)
- June 5 - Allvar Gullstrand, Swedish ophthalmologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1930)
- June 7 - Philipp Lenard, Austrian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1947)
- June 21 - Damrong Rajanubhab, Thai prince and historian (d. 1943)
- June 27 - May Irwin, Canadian actress and singer (d. 1938)
- July 2 - William Henry Bragg, English physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1942)
- July 14 - Gustav Klimt, Austrian artist (d. 1918)
- July 16 - Ida B. Wells, American journalist, suffragist, and anti-lynching crusader (d. 1931)
- August 5 - Joseph Carey Merrick, English oddity (d. 1890)
- August 21 - Emilio Salgari, Italian writer (d. 1911)
- August 22 - Claude Debussy, French composer (d. 1918)
- August 26 - Herbert Booth, the third son of William and Catherine Booth (d. 1926)
- August 29
- September 11 - O. Henry, American writer (d. 1910)
- September 25 - Billy Hughes, seventh Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1952)
- October 3 - Johnny Briggs, English cricketer (d. 1902)
- October 19 - Auguste Lumière, French inventor (d. 1954)
- October 26 - Thomas J. Preston, Jr., Professor of Archeology at Princeton University, second husband of Frances Cleveland, widow of President Grover Cleveland (d. 1955)
- November 3 - Henry George, Jr., American politician (d. 1916)
- November 14 - George Washington Vanderbilt II, American businessman (d. 1914)
- November 15 - Gerhart Hauptmann, German writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1946)
- November 16 - Charles Turner, Australian cricketer (d. 1944)
- November 19 - Billy Sunday, American baseball player, evangelist, prohibitionist (d. 1935)
- December 8 - Georges Feydeau, French playwright (d. 1921)
- January 10 - Samuel Colt, American firearms inventor (b. 1814)z
- January 18 - John Tyler, 10th President of the United States (b. 1790)
- February 7 - Prosper Meniere, French scientist (b. 1799)
- February 20
- February 24 - Bernhard Severin Ingemann, Danish novelist and poet (b. 1789)
- March 22 - Manuel Robles Pezuela, former President of Mexico (executed) (b. 1817)
- April 10 - W.H.L. Wallace, American Civil War general (b. 1821)
- April 19 - Louis P. Harvey, Governor of Wisconsin (b. 1820)
- May 6 - Henry David Thoreau, American author and philosopher (b. 1817)
- July 24 - Martin Van Buren, eighth President of the United States (b. 1782)
- August 10 - Shusaku Honinbo, Japanese Go player (b. 1829)
- August 18 - Simon Fraser, Canadian explorer (b. 1776)
- August 20 - Javiera Carrera, Chilean independence fighter (b. 1771)
- September 6 - John Bird Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury (b. 1780)
- September 14 - Charles Lennox Richardson, Englishman murdered in Japan (b. 1834)
- October 15 - Hans Daniel Ludwig Friedrich Hassenpflug, German statesman (b. 1794)
- November 13 - Ludwig Uhland, German poet (b. 1787)
- December 18 - Barbara Fritchie, U.S. patriot in Civil War (b. 1766)